Kal Penn, most famous for the Harold and Kumar franchise, Designated Survivor, and working in the Obama administration, has signed on to star and produce in an inspiring and culturally unifying biopic about Nav Bhatia, Canada’s most famous superfan.
Nav Bhatia, who escaped to Canada from India’s war and destruction and arrived as a penniless Sikh immigrant, drew strength and inspiration for his journey from committedly watching the Toronto Raptors since the franchise’s inception in 1995 and has attended every home game in its history. In 2020, he became the first fan inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
The biopic will showcase Bhatia’s perseverence against racism and bigotry while working towards becoming one of the country’s leading car salesmen and dealership owners, and ultimately becoming a cultural phemonemon cheering for the Raptors on the courtside.
“I’m speechless. To have the opportunity to continue to tell my story with such esteemed producers is a dream. Then to find out Kal Penn has been brought on to play me is even more surreal,” Bhatia told Deadline regarding the film. “This is not something I can even dream of. He is one of my favorite actors and to know he also loves basketball is an added bonus. I’ll be teaching him all my tricks of the trade when distracting opposing players!”
Bhatia continues to recognize the important influence the NBA has on underprivilged youth, and has since created the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation, which provides opportunities for them to attend Raptors games, as well as build basketball courts and camps for kids in Canada and other countries.
Penn has also gone on to share his passion for the new project. “I’ve been researching and following Nav’s incredible story ever since I saw him at a Raptor’s game the year we started filming Designated Survivor in Toronto,” said Penn to Deadline. “The crowd loves him—to see what a source of pride he is for Canadians—and all basketball fans, really—makes me smile. His story is one of unity, which I’m especially excited and proud to bring to life.”